Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Week 20 NFL Picks

In Week 19 -- "Wildcard Week" -- I picked five of six games correctly (no matter what I expect them to do, it seems like the Vikings always f*ck me), for a net gain of 100 points in the FiveThirtyEight NFL Forecasting Game. I'm currently in the top 26% of players.

Week 20 is the "Divisional Round," and once again I'm going big with all "100% to win/lose, go big or go out in a blaze of glory" picks:

Kansas City Chiefs beat Jacksonville Jaguars -- 100%
Philadelphia Eagles beat New York Giants -- 100%
Cincinnati Bengals beat Buffalo Bills -- 100%*
San Francisco 49ers beat Dallas Cowboys -- 100%

I agree with the FiveThirtyEight model (on outcome, not percentage) on all of those games except the Bengals/Bills matchup.

Of course, I always bet 100% Chiefs, but even if that wasn't the case I'd pick them to beat the Jaguars. The Jags are my second most liked team this year. I've really enjoyed watching them completely turn things around in one season. They are building a formidable franchise. But they're going up against Pat Mahomes, at Andy Reid's house. And the Chiefs had a bye week and will be tanned, rested, and ready. No shame -- the Jags are just out-classed ... for the moment.

The Eagles/Giants game and the 49ers/Cowboys game are similar to each other: Reliable winners who grind out victories on a regular basis, versus teams who've had the moxie to make it into the post-season and past the wildcard round, but who ... well, don't always really show up. This is the big show. You can't half-ass it and expect to beat the Eagles or the 49ers.

Which leaves the Bengals versus the Bills. Most of the experts seem to have the Bills winning this one. Why don't I?

The Bills have home-field advantage, but have been playing better on the road than at home.

The Bills should have had an easy time against the Miami Dolphins -- who were playing their third-string quarterback -- this weekend, but ended up barely pulling the thing off.

And say what you want about the Bills' morale bounce-back after Damar Hamlin went down in cardiac arrest on the field ... the Bengals are the team who did that to them, while already up in the game, and now they're coming to Buffalo. Yes, it was just one of those crazy one-in-a-million accidents, but it happened and I think it will have at least some effect on Buffalo's team morale/confidence/energy.

This is my head, not my heart, talking. Frankly, I'd rather the Chiefs faced the Bills than the Bengals in the AFC championship game. But I think the Bengals will pull this one off.

Of course, I could change my mind. And if I do, I will do so before kickoff, and explain in an update to this post.

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